"The Centennial Jubilee of a parish is always a most significant event because it does not simply mark a considerable amount of time elapsed but rather represents a century of devoted and loving service to Almighty God and His Church."
Humberto Cardinal Medeiros
The Blessed Sacrament
"And while they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessing it, he broke and gave it to them, and said, "Take, this is my body." And taking a cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank of it; and he said to them, "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is being shed for many. Amen I say to you, that I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it new in the kingdom of God."
St. Mark XIV
As the 9th pastor of Blessed Sacrament, I am particularly pleased to participate in the 100th Anniversary Celebration. The past eight years of my pastorate here have been most rewarding and very happy. This satisfaction is due to the devotion, generosity and loyalty of our parishioners for which I shall always be grateful. I pray that God will continue to bestow his choicest blessings and graces upon our parish for years to come.
Reverend George P. Gallivan
Reverend Walter J. O'Hearn (1967 to Present)
Reverend Richard S. Tierney (1972 to Present)
Pastors and Associates
Rev. Francis Gouesse 1872-1901
Rev. Daniel H. Riley 1901-1919
Rev. Timothy Fahey 1919-1933
Rev. John P. O'Riordan 1933-1940
Rev. Bennet J. O'Brien 1940-1949
Rev. John M. Manion 1949-1952
Rev. John J. Costello 1952-1965
Rev. Msgr. Russell H. Davis 1965-1967
Rev. George P. Gallivan 1967-present
Rev. James Fennessy 1900-1900
Rev. James H. Courtney 1900-1901
Rev. William H. Walsh 1901-1902
Rev. William N. Ullrich 1902-1908
Rev. Richard S. Millard 1909-1911
Rev. Francis T. Mahoney 1911-1913
Rev. Michael F. Maguire 1913-1917
Rev. William F. Cahil 1917-1918
Rev. Eugene A. Maguire 1918-1925
Rev. Jeremiah F. Twomey 1925-1926
Rev. Rudolph M. Tuscher 1926-1930
Rev. William E. Kerrigan 1930-1932
Rev. Daniel J. Scully 1930-1931
Rev. Richard F. Callahan 1932-1937
Rev. William J. Linehan 1937-1941
Rev. Thomas L. Burns 1941-1941
Rev. John D. Zuromskis 1941-1942
Rev. Frederick M. Walsh 1943-1946
Rev. Daniel J. Gilmartin 1946-1946
Rev. James E. Connelly 1946-1947
Rev. Joseph L. Murphy 1947-1948
Rev. John E. Bowen 1948-1949
Rev. Francis G. McGann 1949-1953
Rev. Donald G. Ballou 1953-1954
Rev. John F. Donovan 1954-1961
Rev. James M. Rogers 1956-1958
Rev. John T. Foley 1958-1959
Rev. Lawrence R. Parlee 1959-1963
Rev. Philip B. Lavin 1961-1965
Rev. Henry M. Cunney 1963-1964
Rev. Arthur J. DePietro 1964-1964
Rev. Bernard L. Sullivan 1964-1967
Rev. Thomas A. Cummings 1965-1971
Rev. Walter J. O'Hearn 1967-present
Rev. Richard S. Tierney 1972-present
Sisters Serving Blessed Sacrament 1952-1974
Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Trinity 1952-1966
Sister Theresa Marie
Sister John Alice
Sister Elizabeth Ann
Sister Paulin Marie
Sister Thomas Jude
Sister Grace Frances
Sister Anita Marie
Sister Ann Mary
Sister Edna Marie
Sister James Ann
Sister Beatrice (CCD Coordinator - 1973-present)
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, PA
Sister Maria Gross 1966-1972
Sister Martin Noreen 1966-1969
Sister Martha Pooler 1966-1969
Sister Elizabeth Murphy 1966-1971
Sister Helen William 1967-1968
Sister Agnes Rita 1968-1969
Sister Ruth Goodwin 1970-1974
Sister Xavier Matt 1968-1974
Sister Patricia Bove 1969-971
Sister Kathleen Carroll 1969-1974
Sister Patricia Doyle 1969-1970
Sister Ceclia Perone 1970-1971
Sister Mary Coleman 1970-1971
Sister Dorothy Byrne 1970-1970
Sister Marie Secor 1970-1971
Sister Daniel Marie McCarthy 1971-1973
Sister St. Vincent Stynes 1971-1974
Sister Mary Kennedy 1971-1972
Sister Viola Marie O'Keefe 1971-1973
Sister Margaret Christine Sullivan 1972-1973
Sister Celeste Crine 1972-1973
Sister Flavian Kumerant 1972-1983
Sister Iphigenia Feeley 1972-1973
Sister Lareen Francis Sugrue 1973-1974
Sister Rose Louise Murphy 1973-1974
Sister Mary Walsh 1973-1974
Sister St. Francis Coco 1973-1974
Sister Shawn Therese Smith 1973-1974
Sister Corda Marie 1974-
Sister Nora Nash 1974-
Religious Vocations From The Parish 1895-1974
Priests / Ordained
Rev. Thomas Lane / 1875
Rev. Theodore Brandley, M.S. / 1930
Rev. Gregory J. Fynn, C.P. / 1936
Rev.Justin Goodwin, S.A. / 1940
Rev. Canisius D. Hazlett, C.P. / 1936
Rev. Joseph F. McGlone / 1952
Rev. Normand Pepin,S.J. / 1963
Rev. Paul G. Connolly / 1956
Rev. Robert R. Pellini, M.M. / 1960
Bro. James J. McCaffrey, Mary Immaculate Friary, Garrison, N.Y., Capuchin
Bro. John D. McLellan, O.F.M., Holy Name College, Washington, D.C.
Michael F. McLellan, St. John's Seminary
Bro. John E. Tokaz, Mary Immaculate Friary, Garrison,N.Y., Capuchin
Family Name/Entered/Religious Name/Order
Esther Carboney/1910/Sr. Mary Innocentia/Sisters of St. Joseph
Louise Carboney/1911/Sr. Louise Marguerite/Sisters of Notre Dame
Margaret McCarthy/1912/Sr. Mary De Lourdes/Sisters of Mercy
Mary Parker/1913/Sr. Mary Matthew/Sisters of St. Joseph
Lyda Carboney/1914/Sr. Mary Helena/Sisters of St. Joseph
Gertrude Kelley/1922/Sr. Mary Reparatrice/Adorers of the Precious Blood
Mary Killian/1924/Sr. Mary Winifreda/Sisters of St. Joseph
Esther Brady/1926/Sr. Parschaline/Sisters of St. Joseph
Mary Kannally/1926/Sr. Maria Thomas/Sisters of Charity of Halifax\
Ruth Hennessey/1932/Sr. Mary Luella/Sisters of St. Joseph
Gertrude Manning/1932/Sr. Mary Paula/Sisters of Notre Dame
Margaret Downing/1932/Sr. Mary Petrina/Sisters of St. Josephy
Alice Goodwin/1932/Sr. Leo Catherine/Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul
Esther Goodwin/1932/Sr. Aime De Maris/Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Grace Goodwin/1933/Sr. St. Francis Regis/Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Thelma Patton/1945/Sr. Mary Raphael/Dominican Sisters
Mary Beryl Maguire/1948/Sr. Maguire/Hospital Sisters of St. Joseph
Harriet Neault/1948/Sr. Mary Bennet/Dominican Sisters
Jeanne Jarvis/1949/Sr. Mary William/Sisters of St. Joseph
Laura Lee Campbell/1962/Sr. Mary Pius/Order of St. Clare
Program of Centennial Activities
Saturday, May 18, 1974 at 10:00 am
Participation of the parish CYO float in the 250th Anniversary Town Parade
Sunday, October 27, 1974 at 7:00 pm
Centennial Reunion Dinner - Blue Hill Country Club
Friday, November 1, 1974 at 7:30 pm
Memorial Mass for deceased priests and parishioners of Blessed Sacrament
Sunday, November 10, 1974 at 3:00 pm
Solemn Pontifical High Mass celebrated by His Excellency Humberto Cardinal
Sunday, November 10, 1974 at 4:30 pm
Reception and greeting of Humberto Cardinal Medeiros, Archbishop of Boston, in
Friday, November 22, 1974 at 7:30 pm
Historical Pageant presented by Blessed Sacrament School children in
Solemn Pontifical High Mass
Entrance Hymn: "All the Earth" (Diess)
Gloria: "Glory to the Father" (Quinlan)
Liturgy of the Word of God - Lectors: Joseph McManus - Irene Mulrey
First Reading: From the second book of Chronicles, Chapter 2, Verses 3-8
I intend to build a house for the honor of the Lord, my God, and to consecrate it to
him, for the burning of fragrant incense in his presence, for the perpetual display
of the showbread, for holocausts morning and evenings, and for the sabbaths,
new moons, and festivals of the Lord, our God: such is Israel's perpetual
obligation. And the house I intend to build must be large, for our God is greater
than all other gods. Yet who is really able to build him a house, since the
heavens and even the highest heavens cannot contain him? And who am I that I
should build him a house, unless it be to offer incense in his presence? Now
send me men skilled at work in gold, silver, bronze, and iron, in purple, crimson,
and violet fabrics, and who know how to do engraved work, to join the craftsmen
who are with me in Judah and Jerusalem, whom my father David appointed. And
send me boards of cedar, cypress and cabinet wood from Lebandon, for I realize
that your servants know how to cut the wood of the Lebanon. My servants will
labor with yours in order to prepare for me a great quality of wood since the
house I intend to build must be lofty and wonderful.
Response: Psalm 138
Second Reading: From the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter 11,
I received from the Lord what I handed on to you, namely, that the Lord Jesus on
the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of
me." In the same way, after the supper, he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the
new covenant in my blood. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of
me." Every time, then, you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the
death of the Lord until he comes!
Gospel Reading: According to Saint John, Chapter 6, Verses 47-51
"I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died.
This is the bread that comes down from heaven for a man to eat and never die. I
myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he
shall live forever; the bread I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world."
Profession of Faith
Prayers of the Faithful
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Preparation of the Gifts: Ave Maria - Soloist - Delphine Brule
Preface Acclamation (Mass of Christian Unity)
Memorial Acclamation: "Christ has died, Alleluia" (Wise)
Great Amen: "Amen, Alleluia" (Szigray)
Rite of Peace: "Peace, I leave with you..." (Repp)
Communion: "Panis Angelicus" (Franck) - Soloist - Delphine Brule
"Amazing Grace" (Trad.) - Soloist - Ellen Andre
"Glory to the Father"
Solemn Pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving
November 10, 1974
Chief Celebrant and Homolist - His Eminence Humberto Cardinal Medeiros, D.D.
Episcopal Vicar - Reverend Monsignor Robert J. Sennott, P.A.
Concelebrant - Reverend George P. Gallivan
Concelebrant - Reverend Walter J. O'Hearn
Concelebrant - Reverend Richard J. Tierney
Concelebrant - Reverend Leonard R. LaRocque, A.A.
Concelebrant - Reverend Richard F. Callahan
Concelebrant - Reverend James E. Connelly
Concelebrant - Reverend Paul G. Connolly
Concelebrant - Reverend Henry M. Cunney
Concelebrant - Reverend Monsignor Russell H. Davis
Concelebrant - Reverend Arthur J. DePietro
Concelebrant - Reverend John F. Donovan
Concelebrant - Reverend Gregory J. Flynn, C.P.
Concelebrant - Reverend John T. Foley
Concelebrant - Reverend Daniel J. Gilmartin
Concelebrant - Reverend Justin Goodwin, S.A.
Concelebrant - Reverend Canisius D. Hazlett, C.P.
Concelebrant - Reverend Phillip B. Lavin
Concelebrant - Reverend William J. Linehan
Concelebrant - Reverend Monsignor John M. Manion
Concelebrant - Reverend Francis J. McGann
Concelebrant - Reverend Joseph F. McGlone
Concelebrant - Reverend Monsignor James B. Murphy
Concelebrant - Reverend William J. Noonan
Concelebrant - Reverend Daniel J. O'Connell
Concelebrant - Reverend Robert R. Pellini, M.M.
Concelebrant - Reverend Normanc A. Pepin, S.J.
Concelebrant - Reverend James M. Rogers
Concelebrant - Reverend Joseph J. Ruocco
Concelebrant - Reverend Bernard L. Sullivan
Concelebrant - Reverend Michael D. Sullivan
Concelebrant - Reverend Frederick M. Walsh
Concelebrant - Reverend John D. Zuromskis
Master of Ceremonies - Reverend William M. Helmich
Server - Brother James McCaffrey, O.F.M.
Server - Mr. Michael McLellan
Server - Brother John McLellan, O.F.M.
Server - Brother John E. Tokaz, O.F.M.
The story of the Catholic Church in Walpole follows closely the pattern of growth
of the archdiocese of Boston, just as the Town of Walpole followed the general
pattern of growth of the towns within the Mass. Bay Colony.
When the first settlers came to Massachusetts in the 1620's, 30's and 40's they
had nothing but what they could bring in their limited baggage and very little
money. Massachusetts had two things Europe needed: forests and fish. So,
hamlets sprang up along the shore wherever harbors could shelter their fishing
boats, and other settlements followed the retreating forests inland. Walpole was
one of these, inland about twenty miles from the coast. From earliest days we
read of crude mills here along the Neponset - saw mills for lumber, grist mills for
food. The few families who worked them lived nearby.
Walpole developed along the post road to Providence as the southern extension
of the Town of Dedham, which in its turn had been an extension of Boston. For
many years Walpole was a part of South Dedham. The first homesteaders came
to Walpole about 1663, but it was not until 1724 that the Great and General Court
of the Province of Massachusetts Bay passed:
"An Act for the Dividing of the Town of Dedham and making a new Town there by
the Name of Walpole....
"Whereas the South Part of the Town of Dedham within the County of Norfolk is
compresetly settled with inhabitants who labor under great difficulties by their
remoteness from a Place of Public Worship...
"Provided that the inhabitants of said Town of Walpole do within the space of
eighteen months from the publication of this Act, Erect and Furnish a suitable
house for the Public Worship of God, and...Procure and settle a learned
Orthodox Minister of good conservation and make provision for his comfortable
and honorable support.
"That the inhabitants of the Town of Walpole...are empowered to access all
lands...one penny per acre towards the charge of building the Meeting House and
settling and maintaining a minister there."
In this incorporation Walpole typified the elder town of Massachusetts Bay. In the
original colony the town grew around a congregation, hence the name
Congregationalist. The civil unit was established to provide taxation to pay the
minister's salary, and in course of time, the teacher's. Walpole was, therefore, a
definite congregation, a group of hard-working, God-fearing men and women -
Protestant in their belief and their philosophy.
Transients moved into Walpole through the first hundred years following the
demands for laborers in mills, woods or farms. They were transient workers of a
different race and faith and made no impression upon the tightly-knit town. No
mention of them appears in its town records. They were neither numerous
enough nor permanent enough to attract attention. They paid no taxes for they
owned no land.
The first Catholics came to Walpole sometime in the years of 1755-56 as
displaced persons. That year, the English Navy expelled the neutral French
Acadians from what is now Nova Scotia, breaking up families and scattering their
members among the settlements of the eastern seaboard - a story Longfellow
has told in Evangeline.
A large number were dropped in Boston. The Great and General Court, not
knowing what to do with them, in turn divided them among the towns of the
colony. Eight adults and three children were sent to Walpole. Ill, destitute,
unable to speak the language, they were a problem to the town. They had to be
housed in a community with no spare houses, fed and nursed.
For some years they remained in the town, very often in need of public charity,
always hoping and petitioning to be returned to their own land. After a wait of ten
years, the Acadians of the Bay Colony banded together to walk back through the
forests of Maine to their own land. With this group went the Walpole Acadians,
and so disappeared from town history.
They left behind at least one dead man buried in the old cemetery at the corner of
Main and Kendall Streets.
In the roster of Walpole soldiers of the American Revolutionary army are names
of decidedly Irish derivation. In 1754 Nicholas Buckley was a provincial
volunteer. In the Continental army were Edward Murfee and Timothy Callahan.
Who these were, whether residents or transient workers, Irish Protestants or Irish
Catholics, the blank pages of history do not tell.
Just at the close of this period a notable event fastened the attention of the town
for one brief moment upon a great Catholic figure. When Bishop Cheverus left
Boston for Europe a large delegation of the men of Boston walked beside his
carriage as far as Walpole. The Bishop went on to France to become Archbishop
of Bordeaux, and later a Cardinal.
By 1824, the beginning of the second hundred years of Walpole, a new influence
had been brought to bear upon the town. Water driven mills were adapted to
make textiles and all their related products. There were many of these in
Walpole where, in a series of ten water privileges or mill sites, the Neponset has
a combined fall of 155 feet. There were many, also, in the neighboring towns of
Easton, Mansfield, Foxboro and Franklin. These small mills, like greater ones in
Fall River and Taunton, needed workers, "hands." When there were not enough
local people available, these hands were recruited from the tide of immigration
beginning to flow westward from Europe.
Most of these workers were transient, unmarried men, here today and gone
tomorrow. They made as little impression upon the life of the town as did the
Acadians half a century earlier.
Yet since it is characteristic of human nature to make homes where there is work,
it is not improbable that some Catholic families, Irish or perhaps French, settled in
the town. Gradually, for lack of spiritual attention, their children drifted away from
the Church they had never really known and were absorbed into Protestant
Even as late as 1833 the Congregational Church was supported by public
taxation. In that year the Massachusetts legislature severed the connection
between the church and the State of Massachusetts.
There were a few Catholics in Walpole in these early industrial days. Here and
there in the old burying ground at the corner of Main and Kendall Streets are a
few stones upon which are inscribed the letters R.I.P. There too, are found a
cross or two, a cluster of grapes, a sheaf of wheat, symbols of the Blessed
Then, too, in the records of Saint Augustine's parish in South Boston, established
in 1819 by Father Matignon, are records of marriages and baptisms of residents
The first mention of Catholics in Walpole comes, not from town history, but from
an account of Reverend Peter Connolly, a young priest who from his parish in
Sandwich on Cape Cod, maintained a roving apostolate among the transient Irish
mill hands of southeastern Massachusetts. It is recorded that several times in the
years between 1830 and 1832 he visited Easton, Foxboro, and Walpole on
horseback, caring for the spiritual needs of such Catholics as he found there,
saying Mass, administering the sacraments.
Does it seem strange that Walpole should have been tended from Sandwich
seventy miles away, rather than from Boston, scarcely twenty? It was, on the
contrary, quite natural. At this time in the whole diocese of Boston, which
embraced as well Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and part of
Connecticut, there were but fourteen priests besides the Bishop. Of necessity,
these were widely scattered. The few who were in Boston caring for that heavily
populated section were much too busy to go out into the country.
Sandwich on Cape Cod was a glass-making center. The workers, recruited
directly from East Cambridge, were originally glass workers from County
Waterford in Ireland. Sandwich had become in the twenties a small but flourishing
congregation and a new church was built there. From this center Father Peter
Connolly, newly ordained and full of apostolic zeal, roamed the mill centers in
search of Irish workmen, doing missionary work, for at that time the United States
was a missionary country. Many Irish from Waterford arrived first at Sandwich
and thence made their way to large centers, Fall River and Taunton, and to
smaller ones, Foxboro, Wrentham and Walpole. Indeed, many Walpole families
of today trace their ancestry back to County Waterford.
No mention is made in the unwritten history of the parish, handed down from one
generation to another, of any serious opposition to the ministrations of Father
Connolly or of any of the priests who followed him through the succeeding years.
Yet in 1832 the Congregational Church was still the official church of
Massachusetts and the salaries of its ministers were paid out of public tax funds.
Perhaps the Mass and the sacraments were performed so quietly no one was
aware of what was going on. No one seems to have cared unduly, or to have
been unduly alarmed.
Yet in Massachusetts throughout the forties and continuing almost to the Civil
War there was directed against Catholics a rising tide of political and religious
opposition, known commonly as the "Know Nothing Movement." There were
several reasons for this.
First there was the threat of sheer numbers. The ever swelling influx of Irish was
arousing fear that they might overwhelm the established citizenry.
There was also another, an inherited complication. The native Protestant
population of Massachusetts had an English background. They were
descendants of that race which had fought for years to compel the Irish to accept
a status as a dependent and quiescent province within the British Empire. For
hundred of years the Irish had resisted this status, and had risen in each
generation to fight long and bloodily against the forces which were to them still
after so many centuries "the invader." It was inevitable that conflict should arise
between their descendants in the new world, for none of them as yet had come to
know the full meaning of the word "American."
Walpole was quite typical of its age and generation. There was opposition to the
newcomers; that was to be expected. It was bitter rather than violent, due
perhaps to the fact that the southeastern section of the diocese grew very slowly.
The industries of Walpole were small and diverse. The number of hands they
needed to employ was limited. The building of the railroad brought numbers of
young Irishmen in its wake but these centered in Dedham and in Norwood, rather
than in Walpole. The Irish who came to Walpole were few, and therefore were
not so grave a problem. Like the Acadians who preceded them, for many years
they drifted across the life of the town.
In the years of the 1830's, 40's, and 50's, through the episcopacies of Bishop
Benedict Fenwick and his successor, John Fitzpatrick, the story of Walpole and
its neighbors was the story of small missions attached, or rather detached, from
one city parish after another as the number of priests and churches grew. Even
during the years of Father Peter Connolly, Walpole was a station of Saint
Augustine's in South Boston. There is no record that any priest from this parish
ever said Mass in Walpole, although there are records to prove that people from
Walpole went there for baptisms and marriages.
When Saint Patrick's Church was built in the south end of Boston in 1836
Walpole became a mission of that parish and remained so until 1846 when it was
attached to Saint Joseph's in Roxbury, better and more affectionately known as
Tommy's Rock. There for the next decade the Catholics of Walpole were
baptized and married; there are records of pre-Civil War days. At this time Mass
was celebrated with some degree of regularity in the Old Temperance Hall in
Dedham, and later in a Universalist Church in South Dedham, now Norwood. To
these some of the Catholics walked for Sunday Mass. Others, in the 1860's went
That Irish were in Walpole in considerable numbers during Civil War days is
borne out by town records. Here are but a few names so distinctively Celtic as to
leave no question. Patrick Hern was killed in 1862 in the Battle of Bull Run.
Patrick Driscoll appears on the roll of honor of Regiment 12. There are other
names upon the roster of Regiments: John McGinnis, Patrick Flood, John Daily,
Michael Griffin, Patrick Kirby and Thomas Shea, to mention but a few.
In 1866, the year after the Civil War, His Excellency John J. Williams began his
long episcopate which stretched across one century well into the first decade of
the next. Just previous to his accession, in 1863, to lessen the burdens upon the
priests of Saint Joseph's in Roxbury, the missions of Foxboro, Wrentham,
Walpole, and Mansfield were attached to North Attleboro. At this time the parish
was attended by a very active priest from Greenville, Rhode Island, a Father
Philip Gillick. In 1866, Father Gillick resigned from his parish at Greenville to
devote all his time to North Attleboro and its flock of little stations.
With Father Philip Gillick the Catholic parish of Walpole, as we know it, really
begins. He was not the first pastor of Walpole but he is remembered as the first
priest to care for the religious needs of Walpole with any degree of permanency
Because of his learning and his integrity he was one of the best-known citizens of
North Attleboro in his day. Rain or shine, summer or winter, he traveled in his
familiar horse and buggy over rough roads to tend his missions. He said one
Mass each Sunday in his church at North Attleboro. The second he said in
rotation at one of his stations, so that the people of Walpole had Mass once a
month in their own town. On other Sundays they had a choice of walking to
Dedham, Roxbury, Canton, or one or other of the missions.
Father Gillick said Mass at Walpole at private houses. We do not know whether
he tried to secure a public building as he did in Franklin, or a mill-room as did
Father Gouesse in a later day. We do know that he said Mass in the home of
Roger Cunningham, who lived first in a section called Honey Pot, in a house
which stood near what is today the junction of Winter Street and Route 1-A
opposite the entrance to the Norfolk Prison Colony, and later in a house to which
he moved on Stone Street. We next hear of Mass being said in a more central
location in the home of Michael Buckley, a small red house which stood where
today there is a block of stores opposite the Town Hall.
Parishioners of the day told of Father Gillick's help and strength at the time an
epidemic struck, a mysterious fatal sickness brought from Russia in some badly
cured hides, a plague which felled worker after work in the hair mill of Manning,
Glover, and Cram on South Street. Day after day Father Gillick toiled, side by
side with Doctor Stone (for whom the street is named), to save the workers' lives.
The depth of his parishioners' devotion to Father Gillick is shown by this story,
told here not because it is true - and it may be - nor because it is not true - and it
may not be - but to show that the Catholics of Walpole paid him the supreme
tribute Catholics can pay to a priest's work. They credited him with a miracle. It
was performed during the epidemic, a simple thing and that weighs heavily
towards its authenticity. When men invent stories they are usually fantastic;
when God performs one it is apt to be a very simple, natural thing. One of the
afflicted workers was at the point of death. Father Gillick anointed him and
immediately the sick man was cured, and in the course of a few hours was about
his daily occupations.
Father Gillick remained in charge of Walpole until 1872. That year the new
diocese of Providence was established. Its dividing line was drawn at North
Attleboro. Father Gillick became a member of the diocese of Providence.
Walpole and its neighbors remained within the Boston archdiocese. A new parish
was created with Walpole as its center, and the other three as missions attached
to it. To this as pastor came Father Francis Gouesse.
Father Gouesse was typical of the many priests who served in the first years of
the Boston diocese, when the demand for priests was far in excess of the supply,
when the few native clergy had to be supplemented by priests from Catholic
dioceses of Europe who volunteered for the missions. It was the land-lease plan
in reverse. Some of the priests of these early years came from Ireland; some
from Italy; most of them came from France.
One of these was Father Francis Gouesse, born in Laval in 1817. He studied
theology in Saint Sulpice but before ordination came to America in search of a
bishop. Although we have no documentary proof of it, tradition has it that he was
ordained in 1845 by Bishop Blanc in New Orleans.
His first assignment was as superintendent of Saint Mary's Orphan Boys Asylum
in New Orleans. After several years' service here, he volunteered for the frontier
missions of Michigan and Indiana. Later he worked in New York until ill health
forced him to return to France for a brief period of rest. In 1869, at the age of 52,
he came to Massachusetts to relieve the pastors of several parishes, especially
those of Southbridge and Randolph. In Marlboro he organized a flourishing
French Canadian parish and built a church. Almost immediately upon the
completion of this came his assignment to Walpole, as its first pastor.
But Walpole had neither church nor rectory. Father Gouesse, therefore, made
his headquarters in Foxboro where Father Gillick had built a church and upon its
destruction by fire, had rebuilt it. Before its completion the diocese of Providence
had been cut off. It fell to Father Gouesse to complete the church. He remained
in Foxboro until this had been done and the debt was in a fair way to be paid off.
In the meantime he followed Father Gillick's example and continued to say Mass
for his Walpole congregation in private houses. Among these were the homes of
William Mahoney on South Street, close to the hair mill, and of Timothy Hale,
where a section of the Kendall Mill now stands. Confessions were heard usually
in the home of William Mahoney.
After the church in Foxboro was well under way towards independence, Father
Gouesse moved to Walpole. He bought for a rectory a house at 191 Kendall
Street, now the home of Mr. Henry Caldwell. It was not long before Father
Gouesse made the acquaintance of Mr. Jerome Bonaparte Cram, part owner of
Manning, Glover and Company, manufacturers of curled hair, mattresses, cotton
batting and wicking, whose mill stood on South Street. When the acquaintance
had ripened into friendship, Mr. Cram offered the use of the mill for services and
for Mass until such time as Father Gouesse could build a church. Not only did
Mr. Cram give Father Gouesse the use of his mill, but he is said to have aided in
selecting and acquiring the present site of the Blessed Sacrament Church.
In the history of the diocese which appeared about the turn of the century, there
appeared a fantastic story about the secrecy and finesse Father Gouesse had to
use not only to hold services but to obtain property upon which to build a church.
It stated that when negotiations were in progress the priest left town with great
ostentation and remained away for three months. During that time the property
was bought for him by a straw man. The cold facts of the Registrar's Office in
Dedham (Book 440, page 4) do not bear out this tale. There does not seem to
have been any attempt at secrecy. The owner had been in possession of the
property for some years and transferred it directly to the Catholic Archdiocese of
Boston on May 8, 1873.
That such a story could have been told and published is evidence of the fact that
some opposition did exist. It is even possible that pressure may have been
brought to bear upon the owner not to sell. Such things are not unknown even in
our own day, in various places and for various reasons. But no credence can be
placed upon the story embroidered over the fact.
Nor can there have been too great delay in obtaining the property, for the diocese
of Providence was set off February 16, 1872, and the purchase of the land at the
corner of Diamond and East Streets was made in May of 1873, little more than a
year later. We have no written documents upon the transaction other than the
deed to the property.
Father Gillick, who was an intelligent man, knew it was but a matter of time
before he would have to build a church in Walpole. His experience during the
epidemic at the hair mill had given him a better acquaintance with the town and
certainly with J.B. Cram, the active manager of the mill. Very probably the matter
of the property had been the subject of more than one discussion between the
men. When the dioceses were separated in 1872 and Father Gouesse
succeeded Father Gillick, it is not improbable that Father Gillick turned over to
Father Gouesse the information and perhaps the preliminary negotiations for the
property, together with the good-will and friendly interest of the mill-man, old J.B.,
as he was called affectionately.
It was not long before the acquaintance of the mill-owner and Catholic priest grew
into friendship and the established business man smoothed the way of the new
For many months Father Gouesse worked to assemble funds to start the building
of the church and to place his missions of Franklin and Foxboro on a sound
financial footing. Alas, calamity struck in the approved Hollywood fashion. In
1876, when Father Gouesse was deep in building the Walpole church, the
Foxboro church was destroyed by fire one week after its fire insurance had
lapsed. Father Gouesse replaced this church with a small barn-like structure and
procured the transfer of this mission to Franklin, which he had cleared from debt
and had caused to be established as an independent parish in 1877.
In November of 1874, Father Gouesse turned the first sod upon the lot on
Diamond and East Streets for the future Saint Francis Church. This is the
account of it as it is recalled by William Mahoney, then a little boy in primary
school. One weekday morning in November - he is sure it was a weekday
because it had been declared a school holiday for the Catholic children - Father
Gouesse surrounded by as many of his little congregation as could take time off
for the ceremony, met on the property where the location of the church had
already been staked out. There he dug the first sod, followed in turn by each of
the men present. Some of those whom the little boy of 1874 recalls were his
father, William Mahoney, Michael Dalton, Roger Cunningham, in whose house
many Masses had been said, Timothy Hale, another parishioner who had given
his house for Mass, John Rooney, Patrick Smith, James Smith, Edward Cashin,
Patrick Riordan, Patrick Kivlin, Peter Moore, Patrick Dalton, David O'Brien and
his son James P. O'Brien, Michael Mansfield, Thomas Kannally, John Bulger,
Patrick Crowley, and Mr. Gallagher of South Street.
The work of digging the cellar of Saint Francis Church, for Father Gouesse had
named his new church in honor of his patron, Saint Francis of Assisi, proceeded
slowly. There were no mechanized helps, no steam shovels, no bull-dozers.
Moreover, there was no money except for essential needs. Many of the men
contributed hours of labor instead of money; many worked with pick and shovel to
save what money there was for work that called for skill. Up to the time the
ground became too frozen to work, and all throughout the year following, the
parishioners worked. They labored to lay the foundation, they worked to gather
funds, but the church grew very slowly.
In October of 1876 a fair lasting for a week was held in Bacon Hall. A
considerable sum of money was raised through the generosity and good-will of
the non-Catholics as well as through the hard work of the parish. Finally in
December of 1876 the basement was ready for occupancy and service. The first
Mass was celebrated by Father Gouesse on Christmas Day.
The basement of the original Saint Francis Church was not elaborate. The plan
called for a simple wooden frame building, large enough to seat about four
hundred people. The pews were simple benches; the altar a wooden one made
by a carpenter. In the front corner of the epistle side stood a wood-burning
furnace which gave what heat it could to Sunday morning congregations. John
Mahoney, the first janitor, did his best to keep it stoked. In this he was ably
assisted by the first altar boys, Harry and Frank Lane, Thomas Mahoney, and
Terrence Hennessey. About two years later, when the upper church was
furnished, a one-pipe, hot-air furnace was installed and two other altar boys,
William Mahoney and Daniel Dalton, were added. Somewhat later other altar
boys, among them Hugh McElheney, Patrick Lane, Patrick Mahoney and William
Hale were added.
While work on the basement was under way, Father Gouesse, who had been
living on Kendall Street, began the construction of a rectory. By the time the
basement was finished he was able to move into 10 Diamond Street. The rectory
of today does not resemble very much the house Father Gouesse built.
Nevertheless the original building is there. The two front offices are almost as
they were. One of them was used as a morning chapel for weekday Mass during
the winter months.
Work on the upper structure of the church continued; early in the winter of 1897 it
was finished. The first Mass was said by Father Gouesse on Christmas of that
year. The church was very simple, the altar a crude wooden one, the whole
auditorium painfully bare. The work of beautifying it went on for several years.
By 1884, it was fairly complete. A new altar, the gift of Monsignor Dion
O'Callaghan of South Boston, long a close friend of Father Gouesse, had been
installed. Stained glass windows - for the most part gifts of parish families - were
set in place; the stations of the cross, also gifts of the parish, were upon the
walls. Two windows, however, were the gifts of non-Catholics. One was given
by George Plimpton in memory of Patrick Smith, the first Irishman he had
employed, the other by Francis W. Bird, in memory of Patrick Connelley who had
been killed in an accident in the Bird mill.
When in later years, a new church was being constructed in South Norwood for
the Polish people of the district, Father Riley gave the altar, the stations of the
cross, and the pews as a donation. They are there today, sacred relics of the old
St. Francis Church.
Father Gouesse was now sixty-five years old. He had given up the missions of
Foxboro and Franklin. Nevertheless his gradually failing health was being taxed
by his pastoral duties, for Walpole had grown from the dozen families of 1850 to
almost 350 families. So scarce were priests in the diocese, however, that it was
not until twenty years later, when Father Gouesse was eighty-four years old, that
an assistant was sent to help him.
The first curate sent to Walpole was a Father Fennessey, and very little is known
about him. Since he, too, was in failing health, his stay was very short. In the
brief month of his service he organized two choirs, one of adults, the other of
Father Fennessey was succeeded by newly-ordained Father James Courtney.
He remained in the parish until after the death of Father Gouesse.
The first pastor was now a very old man, worn out by his single-handed work of
many years, in Walpole and his earlier missions. He could no longer do the
He was often seen sitting in an arm chair under a maple tree which stood near
the rectory and the church.
So dear did this spot under the maple become to him that he left a written request
that when he died he might be buried under it with a monument to mark his
grave. Father Gouesse died on January 14, 1901. He was buried under his tree;
his monument had to await a later day.
But time and change and the exigencies of a growing parish cannot always
respect the wishes of dead men, not even of an old, well-loved priest. When the
time came to rebuild the church the grave of Father Gouesse was transferred to a
new grave under the church. The spot is marked by four granite posts, set off by
chains, directly below the altar. A section of the trunk of the maple tree, about
four feet of it, was laid above him. And there, under the altar of the beautiful
church which replaces the little wooden one he built, Father Gouesse, first pastor
of Walpole, sleeps. Nor was his request for a monument forgotten. Look closely
sometime at the brass plate upon the altar of the Sacred Heart. It reads: In
memory of Reverend Francis Gouesse. Look closely, too, at the chalice used at
Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days. It is the chalice Father Gouesse brought
with him from France, the only keepsake the parish has of the devoted and
saintly man who was its founder.
One week after the death of Father Gouesse the Reverend Daniel Riley came to
Walpole as its second pastor. Up to this time he had been assistant in
Bridgewater. Ordained in December, 1882, Father Riley had been a priest for
nineteen years. Physically vigorous, spiritually strong, a student of people rather
than of books, Father Riley entered upon the duties of his office with
characteristic zeal. He had many excellent qualities but his kindness and
sympathy were pre-eminent. His whole administration of the parish to epitomized
in the manner in which he handled the matter of Father Gouesse's grave. His
sympathy made him feel the poignancy of the old man's request; his sound
common sense told him that sentiment should not be allowed to stand in the way
of progress; his keen intelligence led him to find a way in which his predecessor's
wishes could be satisfied in a greater degree than Father Gouesse had ever
dreamed, and yet the new and beautiful church which Father Riley already
visualized was not forced into an awkward angle because of the location of a
When Father Riley took over Walpole in the first years of the century Walpole
had expanded, although by some standards it was still a small parish. In a history
of the diocese published in 1899 the families were distributed as follows:
"Irish, 324; French, 28; Italian, 9' Portuguese, 1. There are 150 English speaking
Because Father Riley was a young man and able to do a good deal of work,
almost immediately the Archbishop attached Medfield to Walpole as a mission.
This little town had been alternately part of Roxbury, Dedham, Foxboro and
South Natick. It had been long isolated and there was much work to be done.
Father Riley, therefore, left the routine of the main parish in the able hands of his
assistant, Father Courtney, and took over the work in Medfield. This he
performed faithfully until that mission was cut off and made into a separate parish
Father Riley was the better able to do this because the material affairs of the
parish were under the supervision of Mr. Michael Downing, whose vigilant care of
the parish property had lightened the burdens of the old man's declining years.
When Father Riley became pastor, Mr. Downing remained in charge for many
more long and faithful years. He contributed much to the parish's welfare.
Father Riley had not long been pastor of Walpole when it became evident that
the growing industries of the town were attracting many people, some of whom
were Catholics. Saint Francis Church was fast becoming inadequate to meet
their needs. The first and the easiest answer was to increase the number of
Sunday Masses. This was but a temporary solution for no sooner had a Mass
been added when that, also, became overcrowded. The answer was a larger
church, so Father Riley began to set aside funds to enable him to start rebuilding.
It was not until 1911 that he could see his way clear towards making plans for the
actual building. Then came the troublesome problem of where to locate it. The
center of the Town of Walpole was where it had been for many years, around the
Common and the streets which led from it. Many of the parishioners felt that the
time had come to remove the church from the site Father Gouesse had selected
to a more central spot. One of the members of the parish who had built a
successful contracting business, Mr. Michael McCarthy, offered to Father Riley as
a gift to the parish his estate on Common Street. This was an ideal spot and
Father Riley was urged to accept it. However, East Walpole, another section of
the town where a number of Catholic families had settled, was much dissatisfied
with the prospect of a new location. In those before the automobile, distance was
more important than it is today.
Father Riley decided to retain the original site. A few years later, when East
Walpole was cut off from the mother parish, there was regret at the decision.
In 1911, Father Riley was ready to select an architect and talk plans. He chose
Matthew Sullivan and gave him an idea of the kind of church he had in mind -
brick, with a bell tower, a large capacity for Sunday Masses, and a morning
chapel. Matthew Sullivan died fairly young, before he had done too much
important work, but the Blessed Sacrament Church in Walpole is a testimony to
the worth of his talent. Even in the architect's drawing, Father Riley could detect
the beauty of line and proportion, the grace of the tower which distinguishes the
structure. But neither priest nor architect dreamed that the interior finish of the
church would lift it out of the small number of lovely churches and set it apart
among the very few in America which are rare architectural gems. Neither knew
then of the genius of John Kirchmayer.
In the spring of 1911 Father Riley had old Saint Francis church moved to a
location back of the rectory because it would be needed for services while the
new church was building. On July 5, 1911, he observed the traditional rite of
turning the first sod, and not he alone but all the boys who were about shared the
honor with him.
It was this side of his nature that gave him courage to listen to John Kirchmayer,
immigrant wood carver from Oberamergau, when he begged for a chance to
finish the interior in hand carved wood like some of the great cathedrals of
Europe, to copy the morning chapel after one of the famous chapels of the Middle
Ages, to set the great Crucifix over the altar, to carve the reredos, the side altars,
the stations and the altar furniture, the cross beams, and last but not least to
carve in the solid oak of the front door the twelve apostles, the angels, and the
symbols of the Blessed Sacrament. It gave him courage to adopt an artistic finish
somewhat somber in an age when people were used to color and bright paint. it
led him to get the needed color through glorious stained glass windows.
John Kirchmayer put into the church of the Blessed Sacrament all the wealth of
his genius, all the fire of his ambition. No church he did later was quite like this
one. He began as an unknown workman; he finished a recognized artist.
This is not the place, even if there were space, to tell of the symbolism built into
the morning chapel, the windows, the decorations of the altar. Our church is like
one of the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages, where no decorations existed for
decoration's sake, but each one was part of the story of the glory of God and the
liturgy of his Church.
On Easter Sunday, April 23, 1913, the cornerstone of the church was laid and the
new edifice dedicated. Because it was a completely new church Father Riley
decided to give it a new name, to dedicate it to God along under the title of the
Blessed Sacrament. At the first solemn high Mass Father Riley was the
celebrant. Father Thomas I. Gasson, President of Boston College, deacon and
preacher, Father Michael Maguire, the assistant, sub-deacon. Mrs. Ella Haney
was the organist and there was a choir of thirty mixed voices to sing the Mass.
Although the building of the church was Father Riley's masterpiece, it was not his
sole accomplishment. In 1906, he bought a large tract of land in South Walpole
which he consecrated as Saint Francis cemetery. Previously the people of
Walpole had to go to Canton or Foxboro to bury their dead in consecrated
ground. With the land Father Riley acquired the old Joyce house, which he
intended to use as a home for the superintendent of the cemetery.
The first plot developed in the cemetery was called by Father Riley after his
patron, Saint Daniel. He had Mr. Branley, a local forester, surround it with
evergreens. Today beautiful arbor vitae trees keep watch over the dead of the
early families of old Walpole.
In his time, also, the rectory was enlarged to care for the additional assistants
necessary in the growing parish. He left it commodious, attractive and well
appointed. Nor did he overlook the needs of the young people in the parish. they
had athletic teams, socials, and even a temperance society.
After eighteen as pastor in Walpole, Father Riley was appointed by His
Eminence, Cardinal O'Connell, to be pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Jamaica
Plain. He preached his final sermon one Sunday in June, 1919.
On the following Sunday Father Timothy Fahey came to Walpole as its third
pastor. If he found here a beautiful property, he found also a correspondingly
heavy debt, one of $57,000. He felt it was his mission to wipe out this debt, and
quickly. He set about this task with his customary energy and earnestness. In a
surprisingly few years the parish was free of debt.
During these years, Walpole and East Walpole continued to grow. Into them
poured a tide of immigration as it had once before during the years after the Civil
War, but this time it came not from Ireland but from Italy. The Italians were
attracted to the town by work offered in foundries and machine shops, accepting
in their turn hard labor as their lot, as the Puritan founders accepted it, and as the
Irish had accepted it in their turn. Walpole had another advantage in the eyes of
the land-loving Italians. There was land about, plenty of it, and not too costly to
be out of range of a thrifty, hard-working family. At first the Italians had to be
satisfied with the poorer, worn-out lands, or raw, unbroken fields, but as time
went on and family after family became more prosperous they were able to buy
more desirable property. By Father Fahey's pastorate the Italians had become a
large and important factor in the town. Other groups were beginning to move in,
also. The Poles and Lithuanians were moving in, along the roads from South
All this steady flow of new-comers helped to swell the Catholic populations of
both Walpole and East Walpole. It was quite evident that the time had come to
make provision for separate quarters for the Catholics of East Walpole. At their
request Father Fahey interviewed Mr. Charles Sumner Bird, who had on more
than one occasion proved himself a staunch friend of the Catholics and a
personal friend of Father Riley. He readily granted Father Fahey the use of Bird
Hall in East Walpole for the celebration of Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.
From 1919 to 1926 the Catholics of East Walpole worshipped here.
In 1926 Father Fahey began the construction of a missionary chapel. Although
Mr. Bird had offered as a gift to the parish a piece of land for the new chapel,
Father Fahey decided upon another piece of property he thought more suitable.
The chapel of Saint Mary's was dedicated by Cardinal O'Connell on May 22,
1927. Father Fahey had expected that the new chapel would remain a mission of
Walpole, but in September 1931, East Walpole and South Norwood were set
apart as a new parish under the Reverend John Meheran as pastor.
Although the separation of Walpole and East Walpole was inevitable in the
nature of things, it was a sad parting. Many of the families of East Walpole had
been parishioners of the mother parish from the time of Father Gouesse and had
watched the building first of Saint Francis and then of the Blessed Sacrament
Church. But time and growth cannot be held back by sentiment and East
Walpole was soon on its way to becoming as large as the original parish.
Father Fahey continued to work and beautify the church and the cemetery. He
built the brick steps at the front of the church and thereby added the one thing
lacking in its original beauty.
The cemetery, too, came in for his attention. Father Fahey bought a strip of land
along South Street, opposite the cemetery, to protect the property in future years.
He placed a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Grace on the first terrace, landscaped
the entrance, planting spruces on either side of the drive.
Personally he was brusque and stern, but beneath his rather harsh exterior he
was kindly and charitable. The sick and the poor knew his real depths; they knew
how sensitive and shy he was in reality. He made no effort to attract or charm his
parish, but people respected him and loved him. They were proud of his
eloquence and his superb delivery whenever he was invited to participate in a
In April of 1933 Father Fahey was assigned to the Blessed Heart Parish in
Roslindale, and on Easter Sunday he left Walpole for his new duties.
Reverend John O'Riordan succeeded Father Fahey as pastor in the depression
year of 1933. He is remembered as a frugal man, befitting the times, who used
paper flowers at the altar to preserve the sparse funds. It is ironic that the man
who took such pains to save should also the reputation of being a poor
A quiet, tall, reserved man, Father O'Riordan sought to enrich the lives of his
parishioners by initiating the encouraging spiritual and social activities alike. The
children's welfare was always uppermost in his mind. First Communion prayer
books, children's Lenten services, and rides with the youngsters on the Ferris
wheel were an indication of his concern for their happiness.
He started the novena of the Miraculous Medal, which lasted for ten years on
He continued field days and card parties that his predecessor had established;
and he encouraged the formation of the Walpole Catholic Women's Club.
To some of the Walpole Catholics of the '30's, Father O'Riordan appeared quiet -
yet others remember his priestly understanding, particularly his work with the sick
and his tremendous affection for children.
Father O'Riordan remained in Walpole until July, 1940, when he was transferred
to St. Mary's Parish in Winchester.
Reverend Bennet J. O'Brien, pastor from 1940 to 1949, wrote the history of the
Church for the Diamond Jubilee celebration in 19439. The story you are reading -
Walpole, its growth, and the Church's rise to prominence in the town - is in his
words through the tenure of Father Fahey.
Father O'Brien was a classmate of Richard Cardinal Cushing at St. John's
Seminary. A scholarly man, he translated Volume I of the Breviary (priest's
prayer book) from Latin to English. Volumes II and III were translated by the
Father O'Brien gave Blessed Sacrament music and formality - he purchased the
organ for the church and had the ushers at Sunday Mass wear tails.
He also dusted off Father O'Riordan's paper flowers, found them not to his liking,
and indulged in fresh cut bouquets for the church.
In 1941, Father O'Brien initiated the St. Theresa Society and the altar society
within the Catholic Women's Club. He regenerated interest in the Knights of
Columbus, Holy Name Society, and the Sodality.
Sunday school was held in the basement of the chapel and a girls' and women's
choir was formed under the direction of Alice Hennessey during Father O'Brien's
Perhaps most importantly, Father O'Brien saw the parishioners of Blessed
Sacrament Parish through the trying years of the Second World War, providing
spiritual comfort and guidance in a time of national crisis.
Father O'Brien continued as pastor until December, 1949, when he was
transferred to Sacred Heart Parish in Weymouth.
Monsignor John H. Manion ushered in a period of growth and prosperity for the
parish when he arrived in 1950. A dynamic, forceful man in spite of an asthmatic
condition, he knew what had to be done and possessed the forthrightness and
organization to accomplish his goals.
Father Manion invited the Sisters of the Most Blessed Trinity to set up a
kindergarten in the parish to help teach religious education classes.
He arranged to have the organ refurbished, put the stations of the cross in the
chapel, and expressed great interest in the refurbishing of St. Francis cemetery.
He started the Sacred Heart Holy Hour on Mondays in 1950, to which he drew a
surprisingly large attendance - mostly, some claimed because the Monsignor was
a dramatic and inspiring speaker.
A man ahead of his time, he experimented with English in the Mass. Father
Manion, it was said, was never afraid to move forward.
The best testimony of his great understanding of people and their needs was the
growth of the parish from 450 to 750 families during the first three years he was
Father Manion's stay in Walpole was cut short due to his health and he was
transferred to St. Mary's Parish in Winchester.
Reverend John J. Costello is a legend to Blessed Sacrament parishioners. A
practical and rather gruff man, he was known for his faithfulness to the sick and
for initiating communion breakfasts for the children and outings to Nantasket
Beach for the altar boys.
He is best known for his overwhelming desire to build a parish school. Father
Costello spent a little over 12 years as pastor (from November, 1952 to February,
1965). In that time, he raised over $400,000 for the school fund.
Failing in health, he took to the pulpit early in 1865 to announce that he had
realized his life's goal - groundbreaking ceremonies would be held that coming
Spring. He may not live to see the completion of the building, he said, but at least
he knew his dream would eventually come true. A month later, he passed away.
He was replaced by Reverend Monsignor Russell H. Davis, who had been
choirmaster at St. John's Seminary for 20 years.
Although Msgr. Davis' tenure at Blessed Sacrament was brief (February, 1965 to
June, 1967), his accomplishments were many. He renovated and refurbished the
main church, the chapel, the rectory, the parking lot and the church grounds. He
lighted the tower and electrified the bells. He planted maple trees along Diamond
and East Streets. All this had been accomplished by the time Richard Cardinal
Cushing visited Blessed Sacrament to rededicate the church on July 26, 1965.
Msgr. Davis also broke ground for the school on May 22, 1965. (The first class
entered in the fall of that year.) A month earlier, he had initiated the first parish
reunion at the King Philip.
In addition, he started the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which works with families
with various material and spiritual needs. He also changed the Ladies Guild to
the Blessed Sacrament Guild and combined it with the Sodality.
During Msgr. Davis' tenure, the church had two choirs - a 25-member boys' choir
and a 20-member men's choir. The choirs performed at concerts as well as at
Mass and participated, as did other members of the parish, at ecumenical
services with representatives of Walpole's Protestant churches.
A special Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program was implemented under
Msgr. Davis, and he gave a great deal of credit to Father Bernard L. Sullivan, one
of his curates.
In July, 1967, Msgr. Davis was transferred to St. Catherine of Genoa Parish in
It seems appropriate at this time to say a few words about the people of Blessed
Sacrament for no parish can survive, prosper, and grow without the continued
support of its parishioners. This support, for the most part, is found in its active
societies and may be measured by the vitality of them. These groups provide
opportunities to the parishioners to grow spiritually and socially as well as provide
financial aid as necessary to the well being of any parish.
The societies of Blessed Sacrament Parish and St. Francis Parish before it have
been numerous. Some like the Holy Name, Sodality, and St. Theresa's Society
have had continuity for many years and have provided the spiritual needs which
helped strengthen the faith of its members. Two of the most often mentioned
parishioners in these societies were Bill Hale, who was active over sixty years in
the Holy Name and went on to Archiodesan fame, and Maria Tomaino Tarchea,
truly a missionary and founder of the St. Theresa Society.
Others have experienced faith through their desire and purpose to help those in
need - especially in the area of companionship, such as visits to the ill and
confined both at home and in nursing homes, emergency babysitting and
transportation, help with family problems, and visits to parish homes by inner-city
children. The organizations providing these opportunities for Christian action
have been the Ladies Guild, the Legion of Mary (newly organized by Sister
Vincent), the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and Christian Service Commission of
the Parish Council. Still others - the Knights of Columbus, the Ladies Benevolent
Association, the Foresters, and the Catholic Women's Club have been fraternal in
nature and have provided its members with the brotherly love aspect of parish
Fund raising is a necessary part of parish life, and the activities generated to
accomplish that end are pleasantly remembered by those involved.
Different neighborhood groups were designated each week to sponsor whist
parties during Father O'Brien's time.
Field days, lawn parties, carnivals, minstrel shows, fairs, Christmas bazaars, and
fashion shows each took their place as a financial supplement to the regular
In 1952 and continuing through 1965, the School Building Fund was established
and continued to grow under the auspices of the Ladies Guild, which the
Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity formed from a small group of
The Trinitarians will long be remembered by the ever-grateful parishioners for
their truly missionary work in the parish. These sisters, who lived in the Cenacle
in Norwood, worked endlessly in our parish visiting each home as a census taker,
distributing clothes to the needy, bringing families back to the sacraments,
instructing women in home care, and conducting minstrel shows.
The work with the children of the parish by the sisters, however, will be most
remembered because of its far-reaching effect in the spiritual formation of the
young. These few nuns conducted religious instruction classes for as many as
900 children a year in grades 3 through 9 (aided by high school girls), special first
communion classes, and babysitting on Sunday mornings, and kindergarten
classes daily for thirteen years.
When the Blessed Sacrament School complex was finally realized, the Sisters
of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Pa., joined our parish to staff the new school.
However, in 1972, the Trinitarians came to our aid once again when Sister
Beatrice became coordinator of the parish Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
The CCD program in the parish was finalized at the time of Vatican II by Father
Bernard Sullivan, who worked endlessly recruiting lay teachers and
administrators to teach the children of the parish who were attending public
schools. This program requires a constant replenishment of workers and is the
largest lay apostolate in the parish today. The continuance and success of this
program currently rests with Father Richard Tierney.
No parish could efficiently function without the faithfulness of the Altar and Usher
Societies. The Altar Society, as mentioned earlier, was founded within the
Catholic Women's Club. The work of these dedicated women, not often
publicized, is to maintain the altar linen and vestments each week, clean the
sanctuary, as well as care for the flowers and decoration of the altar.
The Usher's Society, of course, is observed at work each Saturday, Sunday, and
Holy Day. What makes these two groups unique is that they require a continual
effort and long term commitment. Ann Travers and Irene Connolly have served
the Altar Society since its inception. Leo Travers is our head usher, and with his
wife Ann, they celebrated in 1974 fifty golden years of a marriage that was
entered into in the Blessed Sacrament Parish on June 2, 1924. Such devotion to
their parish on the part of so many similar good and faithful servants is the more
real and vibrant story of our parish that words cannot convey.
The youth of the parish have represented themselves and their parish well over
the years in various activities under the auspices of the C.Y.O. Baseball, hockey,
basketball, and drill teams have carried the name of Blessed Sacrament. Youth
dances, retreats, Search weekends all have been organized by the young people
in the traditional Catholic philosophy, that both the social and spiritual must be
combined to form a solid Christian person. The present Spiritual Director of the
C.Y.O., Rev. Walter O'Hearn, has worked with the young people since he joined
the parish in 1967.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia joined our parish in the fall of 1966 with
the opening of the new parish school complex which includes a convent, parish
auditorium, 16 classrooms, a cafeteria and kitchen facilities.
These nuns were not new to Boston as they formerly staffed the Holy Trinity High
School and St. Francis Orphanage in the Roxbury area for more than 50 years.
The school opened with 118 students in two first and two second grades. Sister
Maria Gross was the first superior as well as one of the second grade teachers.
Two grades were added each year until the seventh year when the enrollment
would only support one seventh and eighth grade class. The first graduating
class held its commencement exercises in June, 1963. The students, the nuns,
and the lay teachers comprise a new influence on the life and customs of our
It is interesting to note that Sister Frances Georgia, a member of the Order of St.
Francis, although never stationed in Walpole, was instrumental in establishing the
inner-city children's visiting program in the Town of Walpole. This includes
families of all faiths and continues under the direction of the Christian Service
Commission of the Parish Council.
A Home and School Association was founded February 14, 1970, by the parents
of the parish school to promote the welfare of the school in the parish, act as a
liaison with the Walpole community, and conduct various functions to help reduce
the extensive debt undertaken by the parish to promote Christian education.
In 1969 in answer to the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity from Vatican II and
a mandate from the Archiodesan Office, a Parish Council was formed.
Bill Foley, its first vice-chairman, worked long and tirelessly guiding the formation
of the six commissions: namely, the Administrative, Christian Service, Religious
Education, Liturgical, Youth, and Parish Activities.
Bill Foley served as vice-chairman for two years and was ably assisted in his
work by our Pastor, Father Gallivan, in the role of chairman of the Council,as well
as each associate pastor and a representative of the teaching faculty, who also
have seats on the Council.
The Charter of the Council dictates that the Council not replace the active
societies of the parish, but rather that it foster the growth of them.
Ted Stevenson replaced Bill Foley as vice-chairman in the summer of 1971, and
the Council continued its work under his supervision for another two years when
its present vice-chairman, John Coleman, started his tenure. Although the history
of the Council is less than six years, the success of the work of its six
commissions is evidence of a bright and distinctive future for Blessed Sacrament
In July of 1967 Reverend George P. Gallivan was appointed pastor of Blessed
Sacrament Parish. Father Gallivan was not new to the area for he was associate
pastor in St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Norwood prior to his coming to
Father Gallivan is hard at work today and it is under his direction, guidance, and
devotion that the parish, Parish Council, and the Centennial Committee function.
Parish life today belongs more to the field of current events than of history.
It remains for the historian of the future to look back upon our tenures to evaluate
our contribution to the life and spiritual progress of the parish.
It is evident from the preceding history that the vitality of Blessed Sacrament
parish in the future will depend on the dedication of its pastor, associate pastors,
religious and lay people alike to the Christian goal of reaching the Kingdom of
God through love of fellow man.
This history has been built in two stages - The first stage was written by
Reverend Bennet J. O'Brien and his sister Mercedes E. O'Brien, Ph.D., and
includes all the information through the year 1933 and the period of Father Fahey.
The information upon which stage one was written was contributed by:
Mr. William Mahoney
Mrs. Margaret Creedon
Mrs. Elizabeth Caldwell
Miss Anna Caldwell
Mrs. William Goodfellow
Miss Ellen Mahoney
Mr. P.J. Mahoney
Miss Gertrude Kivlin
Mr. Jerome Kivlin
Mr. Joseph Greenwood
Mrs. Charles Haney
Mr. William Hale
Mrs. Hannah Hale
Miss Edith Walsh
Mr. Frank Walsh
Miss Margaret Moore
Miss Margaret Kannally
Mrs. Salvatore Camelio
Mr. James Reardon
The second stage from Father O'Riordan's time through the present was written
by Miss Jacqueline M. Deckel and Mr. Joseph P. McManus.
The information upon which stage two was written was contributed by:
Miss Margaret Moore
Mrs. William P. Flynn
Miss Eleanor Flynn
Rev. Gregory J. Flynn, C.P.
Mr. & Mrs. Thos. L. Travers
Mr. & Mrs. James Walsh
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Hazlett
Mr. William E. Foley
Mr. Edwin J. Ryan
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Taylor
Mr. & Mrs. Paul Dalton
Sisters of St. Francis
Sisters of Most Blessed Trinity
Msgr. Russell H. Davis
Rev. Philip B. Lavin
Rev. Francis G. McGann
The Chancery Office
Rev. George P. Gallivan
Rev. Walter J. O'Hearn
Most Holy Father, Rev. George P. Gallivan, pastor, and the parishioners, on the
occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Blessed Sacrament
Parish in Walpole, Mass., humbly beg a special Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of
divine graces and favors.
Honorary Chairman - Reverend George P. Gallivan, Reverend Walter J. O'Hearn,
Reverend Richard S. Tierney
General Chairman - Thomas J. Coughlin
Secretary - John P. Connor, Jr.
Treasurer - James E. Gately
Book Production Committee - Mr. Joseph P. McManus, Chairman, Mr. Paul
Dalton, Miss Jacqueline M. Deckel, Mr. Paul Glasheen, Mr. William M. St.
C.Y.O. Float Committee - Mr. William R. Duffy and Mr. Edward T. Stevenson,
Chairmen, Miss Janice Connolly, Miss Janice Franklin, Miss Janet Hill, Miss Zita
Kelliher, Miss Patrice Lamperti, Miss Martha McCaffrey, Miss Nancy McManus,
Miss Debra McSweeney, Miss Donna Murphy, Miss Mary Murphy, Mr. Edward
Nolan, Miss Kathleen Nolan, Miss Cheryl Parente, Miss Julie Prendergast, Miss
Lisa Proctor, Miss Mary Sullivan
Reunion Dinner Committee - Mrs. Edward T. Verderber, Chairman, Mrs. John J.
Coleman, Mrs. John J. Dwyer, Mrs. Lawrence Hogan, Mrs. Gilbert Keteltas, Mrs.
John P. Connor, Jr., Tickets, Mrs. Samuel A. Lorusso, Mrs. Robert Servais, Mrs.
Michael A. Rizzo
Pontifical Mass Committee - Mrs. & Mrs. Paul Glasheen, Chairmen, Miss Marjorie
Delaney, Mrs. John A. Johnson, Reverend Leonard LaRocque, Mr. Thomas L.
Reception Committee - Mr. & Mrs. Edward T. Stevenson, Chairmen, Mr. & Mrs.
Ronald A. Fucile, Mrs. & Mrs. Robert W. Lee, Mr. & Mrs. Robert F. Harwood
Historical Pagent - Sister Nora Nash, O.S.F., Director
Publicity Committee - Mr. Albert W. Deckel, Chairman, Mr. Russell J. Czyryca
Patron & Book Sales Committee - Mr. Edwin J. Ryan, Chairman, Mrs. Joseph
Bacchieri, Mr. George V. Brown, Mrs. Paul K. Conley, Mrs. Edward P. Damish,
Mrs. Michael DeRosa, Jr., Mrs. William L. Doyle, Jr., Mrs. John P. Dwyer, mrs.
Robert A. Furbush, Mr. Albert Diangomenico, Mrs. Frank E. Kelley, Mrs.
Raymond R. Masce, Mrs. John E. McTighe, Mrs. Philip A. Murphy, Mrs. Joseph
Parent, Jr., Mrs. Walter H. Pelrine, Mrs. John W. Proctor, Mrs. Raymond C.
Rockwood, Mrs. Warren Young